How The Bootleg Series 8 Will Lead to More Bob Dylan Piracy

Bob Dylan Bootleg Series 8: Tell-Tale SignsSo first, the good news, courtesy of the A.V. Club: Bob Dylan is putting out The Bootleg Series Vol 8.

This one — subtitled Tell Tale Signs — concentrates on rare and unreleased music from 1989 – 2006, and can actually be seen as a companion to the very first Bootleg Series, especially since one of the songs on Tell Tale Signs is another version of “Series of Dreams,” one of the more talked-about tracks from that first collection, put out nearly 20 years ago.

It probably goes without saying that I love Dylan’s Bootleg Series discs, even if they contain songs I’ve already heard, because not only is the quality top-notch, there are always surprises. I’m very much looking forward to discovering what this one has in store. Best of all, as anybody who has the Genuine Basement Tapes knows, there’s always more where that came from.

Yet, this time, there is a problem.

One of smarter things that the record labels have done in order to combat piracy is to come up with multiple configurations of records, each of which has some enticement for fans to purchase the physical object instead of waiting for it to show up on bittorrent or an .mp3 blog. Therefore, Bootleg Series Vol. 8 comes in three flavors:

  • There is a two-CD version with 27 songs, and a 60-page booklet, retailing for $18.99
  • There is a four-disc vinyl version with 27 songs, and the same 60-page booklet for $99.99. (Ironic how vinyl is the prestige format these days, so they feel like they can get away with charging $25.00 per album. That’s a whole lot extra to pay for your comforting analog warmth.)
  • There is a three CD-version with 39 songs, the 60 page booklet, a 7″ single and a really nice-looking 150 page photobook of the sleeves of all of his records for $129.99.

See the problem? If, at the end of the day, all I want is the music of Bob Dylan on Compact Disc, I have two choices: I can have 27 songs for $18.99, or I can have 39 songs for $129.99 — over $100 dollars more!

How does that make any sense? Sure, there’s a beautiful photobook and all, but I’d look at it once or twice and file it away forever.

Given the fact that part of the purpose of The Bootleg Series was to monetize the insatiable appetites of Dylan freaks — us crazies who gladly parted money for the official version of the infamous “Royal Albert Hall” concert despite having memorized it from our bootlegs — how does it make any sense whatsoever to make a single disc’s worth of music cost over $100?

Why isn’t there a 3-CD option for, say, $26.99? I’d pay that in a second. But I don’t even have the option. It’s either $18.99 or $129.99.

How is making this disc an instant collectible going to do anything but ensure that people are going to find alternate means of acquiring that music?

The answer: it’s not. It will, in fact, lead to more piracy. All it takes is a single person who paid full price to post it. Or an early leak of the whole thing. And the places that post it will post all three discs, and there will be some people who end up downloading all three discs and not even bothering to purchase even the two-disc version.

It’s entirely possible that this attempt to get people to pay more money for music that is artificially and arbitrarily made scare could actually depress the sales of the legitimate CDs.

My suggestion: even if it’s too late in the overall process to add the third CD to the cheaper package, make those songs available to purchase as downloads from Amazon or Rhapsody or iTunes Plus. Let the people pay extra for the photobook, if they want, but if you’re going to make the music legit, let his fans have legitimate access to it at a reasonable price.

We’ll gladly pay it.

28 Responses to “How The Bootleg Series 8 Will Lead to More Bob Dylan Piracy”

  1. matt says:

    I think its outrageous that Sony is charging $100 more for the delux package. If Sony had chosen to release the third CD with the normal CD at a reasonable price then I would have bought it. I’m not going to now, even thought I love Dylan.

  2. P.Jekk says:

    Well, I for one will download the third cd…..and I won’t be alone

  3. BDursee says:

    Your right. I guess I will buy a bootleg of a bootleg.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m still covinced it’s all a matter of misleading communication.
    Yes, there will be the 3-disc deluxe edition, and none of us will know about the exact pricing until it’s offered somewhere for pre-order.
    AND there is the bobdylan.com exclusive offer, including the 7” single as “bonus” that won’t be available anywhere else.
    THAT’s the one we already KNOW the price of.
    It’s completely beyond me why everyone seems to think he has to buy that expensive “collectors only” version – or to steal – to get the third disc.

  5. Tom A. says:

    This write-up expresses excatly how I feel. Thanks Sony!

  6. Bob says:

    There will probably be some “heavily discounted” offers of the deluxe 3 cd set for maybe $69 or $79, but that still is a tremendous rip-off. The bonus picture booklet is a big waste. Most of the 45RPM picture sleeves used repetitive photos and had poor graphic design. You might glance through it once in about two minutes. SONY should rethink its plans now. Offering the third disc as a $15 download is not satisfactory. I say, blow the whole thing off (and I have thousands of Dylan CDs).
    For this price, the best boxset company in the world, Bear Family, offers 6 loaded CDs (80 minutes), plus a deluxe 12X12 hardcover book that is really worth something. SONY is a rip-off specialist. Get some record collectors on your staff instead of accountants.

  7. Bob says:

    I just noticed that Rolling Stone magazine’s comment page about this release, which was running VERY NEGATIVE about SONY, has now been deleted. I guess someone at SONY must have called Rolling Stone and asked them if they wanted SONY to pull some advertising from their magazine.

  8. joseph says:

    I will download the three cd, sure. I would like to have the originals records, but it’s a shame to buy it

  9. Michael says:

    Whole heartedly agree. I’m sure the 3rd disc will be up on the torrent sites on the day of release, and frankly, at $100 extra to hear music, it’s hard to sympathize with Sony.

    I’m surprised that no mention has been made of the digital release specifications as of yet. Surely they’re not cynical enough to let people pre-order the $129 edition for the extra tracks, only to announce later that they’ll be available for 30 bucks on iTunes?

  10. Joe says:

    It is total BS. I blogged about it recently myself– my post title was “Bob Dylan kicks his own fans in the crotch”. Feel free to check it out at the link above.

    Joe

  11. Livy says:

    I’m sure they’ll sell out of that deluxe edition anyway, so I don’t think piracy is that big a concern for them. What they need to worry about is piracy of the two disc version, and all the deluxe edition does is make that look like a deal, which could lead to more legitimate sales.

  12. chris says:

    4. Anonymous coward wrote on August 1st, 2008 at 3:14 am It’s completely beyond me why everyone seems to think he has to buy that expensive “collectors only” version – or to steal – to get the third disc.

    Ummmm maybe because that’s exactly what was communicated? I know this is “beyond you”, but just take your time, it’l come to you.

  13. chris says:

    7. Bob wrote on August 1st, 2008 at 4:01 am

    I just noticed that Rolling Stone magazine’s comment page about this release, which was running VERY NEGATIVE about SONY, has now been deleted. I guess someone at SONY must have called Rolling Stone and asked them if they wanted SONY to pull some advertising from their magazine.

    oooooooooh! Intrigue! Conspiracies! Threats! Do you have any evidence to support this? At all? Didn’t think so.

  14. bokhara says:

    Gob-smacking idiocy like this from dying media giants is why I will bittorrent the entire 3cds from piratebay and not pay a dime … and have no regrets.

  15. Bob says:

    All of the other Rolling Stone comment pages are still there. Only the comments on this release one were deleted.

    The record corporations used to tell people that the silver CD bootleggers were ripping you off (at $20 per CD)…but SONY wants $43 per CD. The paper frills are not so special. When Modern Times came out, some dealers had the FREE bonus booklet with pictures of every Dylan album. That was about the same as this 45 RPM booklet, which I guess you are paying abou $90 for (granting them a $39 suggested price for the 3CD set). By the way, watch for surplus copies of the 7 inch single being offered as freebies at some of the major outlets. That’s how SONY shows respect for their customers.

  16. Anton Phibes says:

    I will not pay a dime for songs in mp3, aac format, only downloading format I will pay for is flac with high resolution artwork, like on that Metallica live site

  17. Torsten H. says:

    12. chris wrote on August 1st, 2008 at 6:35 am:

    “4. Anonymous coward wrote on August 1st, 2008 at 3:14 am
    Ummmm maybe because that’s exactly what was communicated? I know this is “beyond you”, but just take your time, it’l come to you.”

    First of all thank you very, very much for calling me “coward” without considering any other reason for posting “anonymously”, e.g. pressing the submit button by mistake, like I did.

    But bad manner aside, I have to correct your statement about what exactly was communicated, as well.
    Just read the description of the deluxe edition in several announcements and compare it to the one offered on the official website. You will easily find a very “exclusive” (and shockingly expensive) difference.
    That difference is what I am talking about, and it’s obviously part of what has been communicated so far; somewhat misleading, as already stated in my previous post, but it’s out there nevertheless, almost without being noticed.

  18. Jim says:

    Hi Torsten,

    Thanks for identifying yourself — not necessarily easy when you are taking the unpopular position in a forum, i know — but I’m not sure what you are talking about in terms of the exclusive that makes the difference.

    If you’re talking about the photobook, we know. And don’t care, because the 3-disc version is currently the only way to get that third disc of music. Unless I’m missing something.

    Can you explicitly state what’s out there without being noticed?

    In the meantime, Amazon currently (Aug 1, 2008 11:05 AM PDT) has the Deluxe three disc edition on sale for — wait for it — $169.98.

    I’m assuming that will change, but it’s hilarious in light of all of the anger being directed towards the $129.98 price found on Dylan’s site.

  19. john says:

    Maybe that $169 version comes with the framed photo of Rick Rubin, the record producer/president of SONY’s music division who was supposed to be a reality check for the corporate world

  20. Leonard says:

    You walk into a major bookshop. There you see a little CD-sized book of photos of Dylan’s 45RPM covers. Without looking at the price, you go to the register. The clerk says, “That’ll be $97.60”
    What would you do?

  21. Torsten H. says:

    18. Jim wrote on August 1st, 2008 at 10:08 am

    “In the meantime, Amazon currently (Aug 1, 2008 11:05 AM PDT) has the Deluxe three disc edition on sale for — wait for it — $169.98.”

    Okay, that’s it, I give up!
    What I meant was simply the bobdylan.com exclusive addition of a 7” single which I thought to be the reason for the price in comparison to the “standard” 3-disc deluxe set that was announced worldwide, of which we didn’t know a price, yet.
    I wouldn’t have thought in my wildest nightmares that it could be even more expensive WITHOUT being exclusive!!!

    Sorry folks, that’s too much, please accept my heartfelt apologies!

    T.H.

  22. Jason says:

    It is even worse for vinyl afficionados like me. I want it all, and will be dumb enough and honest enough to pay $225 for the vinyl set plus the 3 CD set (the latter so I can listen while driving, at work, or at the gym).
    Record companies that do not shit on their fans give you a free download code when you buy a vinyl LP.

  23. Marty says:

    I am a long time Bobaholic and have reluctantly pre-ordered the 3 cd set. I promise to make as many copies of the third disk as I can and give them out to as many people I know that cannot afford the overpriced bonus cd. I can understand limited edition signed prints at $2,000, but this is extortion!

  24. Tom Grasty says:

    The pricing on this is really disappointing. But as long as shameless promoting is being tolerated…why not check out my new novel, BLOOD ON THE TRACKS, which I think all of you will enjoy.

    It’s a murder-mystery. But not just any rock superstar is knocking on heaven’s door. The murdered rock legend is none other than Bob Dorian, an enigmatic, obtuse, inscrutable, well, you get the picture…

    Suspects? Tons of them. The only problem is they’re all characters in Bob’s songs.

    You can get a copy on Amazon.com or go “behind the tracks” at http://www.bloodonthetracksnovel.com to learn more about the book. And the best part? You won;t have to hock your house to buy it.

  25. Paolo Martinelli says:

    As I saw the announcement I went to the site, ready to pre-order…

    … obviously i didn’t… When Modern Time came out I bought the Vinyl issue, the special CD+DVD and the standard CD (as gift for a friend) at less than the price of this BS vinyl!

    To pay that price for the extra 45rpm cover book (some of them you can find over the net, and many are not so good to look at many times) and the new 7″ it’s really stupid!
    They don’t show any respect to their costumer, especially for those who alreay paid to buy the recordings that they already had (I mean live-1966, 1975 and 1964 sounded more as a late payment fee for diehard fan than new volumes in the BS, but still I was happy to pay a reasonable price).

    I won’t pay the crazy price, don’t know if I’ll download the third disc… actually i’m not sure i’m going to buy the double CD. Probably I have enough of these tentatives to suck my blood.

    After all He already knew that:

    “People are crazy and times are strange
    I’m locked in tight, I’m out of range
    I used to care but – things have changed.”

  26. keith says:

    alot of the Dylan fanatics that I talk to are so offended by the premium pricing that they have said they will not purchase any of it, even when the big box stores put the 2CD version out at $12. Why cant SONY put the 3 CD version out at $25-$30. The production costs of this set cannot be very high. I think they take all of the live tracks from circulating fan-audience tapes. They didn’t pay a nickel for those

  27. myeviltwinlynn says:

    Your all complaining because your poor. I had no problem signing up for it because I have the money.
    I don’t want a copy of anything, I want the orginal.
    Which might be a COLLECTABLE someday when he’s dead.

  28. Jim says:

    @myeviltwinlynn

    Instead of buying something that might be a collectible someday, you might want to think about using your riches to purchase some understanding of basic grammar and spelling.

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